The War Party Returns Repudiated at the polls, they're back — in a new liberal guise

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Whatever happened to the neocons, those creatures of legend whose fulminations led to the worst strategic disaster in American history? Oh, don’t worry, they’re still around and up to no good — out of power, but not out of mischief-making schemes to drag us into yet another war, this time on a scale much bigger than their previous "accomplishment."

The Weekly Standard, Rupert Murdoch’s gift to the War Party, is no longer delivered in multiple copies to the White House, but that doesn’t mean editor Bill Kristol is totally bereft of influence in Washington. Kristol & Co., having disbanded their Project for a New American Century [.pdf] — which played a key role in dragging us into Iraq — have come up with a new vehicle, the Foreign Policy Initiative, which recently co-sponsored a conference with the head of the Center for a New American Security (the Obamaites’ favorite foreign policy think-tank) and the Center for American Progress, the Soros-funded headquarters for progressives such as Matt Yglesias. The subject was the "Af-Pak" front, and the attendees, whatever their other political differences, were in agreement that our new president is on the right track as he escalates this latest surge in the "war on terror."

The reason for this ideological harmonic convergence is simple enough to see: in spite of Obama’s alleged commitment to "change," so far our foreign policy is Bushism without Bush — a policy of perpetual war, albeit without the Bushian bells and whistles.

Not that the administration will ever admit to this essential continuity. In a move that underscores the stylistic differences between the new crowd and the old, the Pentagon recently issued a diktat to its minions, notifying them that "this administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ [GWOT]. Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’”

Appearances are everything to this administration, whose top guns are understandably sensitive to the charge, coming from the more principled element of the Democratic Party base, that the revolution has been betrayed. The president’s defenders note that none of this should come as any surprise to those who listened to what Obama actually said on the campaign trail, and they’re right about that: he constantly charged that the Bushies had "neglected" the Afghan front and that we were fighting "the wrong war." Once in office, he would fix that, he vowed — and that is precisely what he is doing.

Yet one has to note that the Bushian terminology at least had the virtue of honesty. This new crowd, which supposedly disdains all ideology and is devoted to a streamlined, hard-as-nails "pragmatism," is slipperier than a greased-up eel in a frying pan. "Overseas Contingency Operation" indeed!

The euphemism is comical, yet not totally meaningless. Within it lies a hint of what the Obamaites intend, or, at least, what they say they intend. Being sensitive barometers of the political zeitgeist, the Obamaites are perfectly aware of the war-weariness of the American people. Even if you call it an "overseas contingency operation," a war in these hard times is likely to grate much harder on people’s nerves as they listen to the latest news from the Af-Pak front. Yet to call the current war a contingency is to imply that there’s going to be an end to it, and, not only that, but that the end is in sight, if still a decade or so off.

This, one assumes, is progress of a sort, but one has to wonder: what is the administration’s current overseas operation contingent on? Or, in plain English, what event, or series of events, would cause us to declare victory and come home?

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Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

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